Thursday, September 3, 2015

A bad fall

I have been asked by a certain bike advocate to say that I hurt my wrist driving...alas, I can not. I fell. Off my bike, at the trailhead after a fast, rocking decent. I couldn't get up for a couple of minutes and knew that something was wrong


So the next day I waded into the farce that is our so-called first world health care system. Ha! Instacare diagnosed a break of my scaphoid. Then they called back and said no, it actually wasn't a break. They referred me to an orthopedist who was great. His assistant- not so much. It took almost two weeks to get an MRI and contrast x-Ray. Super painful, uncomfortable,and unpleasant experience there too. Do I really need 3x hospital scrubs? Because I could not tie them up or walk without tripping. And their "classical music" they piped through the MRI headphones was truly horrible.

And let's not forget that school starts next week. I'm in my classroom trying to get ready. I have amazing colleagues who helped me every day, cutting and hanging posters and writing and checking on me. I am so grateful. However, the pain was intense and usually driving home (awful!) found me in tears.

So the next day after the MRI, I get a call from the orthopedist telling me to go straight to the hand surgeon. Awesome. I manage to get an appointment (a real coup, it turns out) and learn that I need a pretty big surgery involving pins and anchors and 2-8 weeks out of work. It also involved some urgency. More tears, but they were very kind and provided lots of Kleenex. We scheduled the surgery, then I sat in the car for an hour having a complete meltdown. Andy decided that getting a second opinion would be good, and made me another appointment for the following Monday. Brilliant Andy.

Then I went back to school to give the news to my director. I need 10 school days off. Whoa. I only get 4 personal days!

But it turns out that the hand surgeon's surgery team is out-of-network. So I can't have surgery there. Thanks to Andy's foresight, I headed off for another appointment.  Without much joy.

Doctor number 4 (instacare, orthopedist, hand specialist #1 and now hand specialist #2) says the same thing- surgery, ASAP, but is more optimistic about returning to work in a couple of weeks. So the surgery gets scheduled for the second day of school. By the way, I tore my scapholunate ligament.

Wow. So much stress. There is difficulty finding subs, I have to write an outline for the long term sub plans, and day-by-day plans for the rest of the week. Ouch. Tears.

The first day of school flew by and I had to cram as much as I could into shortened classes, then say goodbye. At about 6 pm all the subs got confirmed.

Surgery wasn't until 11, and in fact I didn't even see the dr until about 2:00. They gave me a happy pill, lots of preemptive painkillers, and talked to me about a nerve block after the surgery. When I woke I was in a lot of pain, even through the haze of drugs and morphine and anesthesia. The nerve block involved lots of painful shots then...nothing. I can't move my arm at all, or feel it. In the hospital I gently punched myself in the face. Now, it's just heavy and useless, and my fingers are like little Vienna sausages.

I have a foam "cheese block" to keep it protected and elevated, and am firmly ensconced on the sofa bed with phone, kindle, ipad, water, and painkillers. I go back to school on sept 21, unless I can handle it before then. It's going to be a long 2 weeks. Then, I get a cast for 8 weeks!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Yellowstone- and the Art of the Illuminated Field Journal

 This summer, I was super lucky to receive a scholarship to attend the Yellowstone Field Institute in the Lamar Valley, in Yellowstone National Park.  The class was a 5 day class taught by an incredible artist-nature journalist-teacher-woman by the name of Hannah Hinchman.  I had heard about the class in a previous class that I took (Utah Master Naturalist- Mountains), and knew that it was something I HAD to do.  I was super nervous.  First off, the list of supplies was intimidating, all fine micron pens and calligraphy tips.  Second, I'm not a strong visual artist.  I've been trying, sure.  I took a watercolor class on line, and I've been reading about how to do it, painting, and trying to draw at least once a week, if not more.  I knew that I would probably be the only non-trained artist in the class.  I suspected that I'd be the only non-retired person in the class.  (I was not wrong, mostly.)  But I really, really wanted to do it.

Luckily, I got the scholarship, set the dates aside, and drove off to the Lamar Valley.  If you're not familiar with Yellowstone geography, the Valley is located in the northeast corner of the park.  It's where the wolves were released, and (way back when) the bison were released as well.  The valley is a beautiful, special place.  It's a little further off the beaten track, there are no services or lodges (other than where you live when you are at the Institute, which is private), and there is a lot of wildlife.

 This particular bison was in rut (male version of estrus, more or less), and extremely aggressive.  He was very seriously considering charging the bus, but in the end, decided to walk so close we could smell his bison breath through the open windows.  There were hundreds of bison, some walking right through the little village of cabins, classrooms, and bathhouse that makes up the Institute's summer home, the Lamar Buffalo Ranch.

I saw a wolf.

That's right.  I SAW A WOLF.  In the wild.  It was just a glimpse, a yearling, in the long sunset, across the river.  But it was a gray wolf (later confirmed by a biologist that a) there were a pair of gray yearlings, and b) they were seen right where I saw him) and I saw it.  I still get shivers.

I also saw what was either a brown bear cub or a grizzly cub.  It was later in the day, toward sunset, and a (new) friend and I were hiking to try and recover some lost items.  We were doing everything right, making noise, carrying bear spray, etc.  So when we heard a rustle through the tall grass, we thought it was a rabbit- but no, it was a bear cub, small and running really fast.  You aren't supposed to run when there is a bear around, so we upped the amount of noise we were making and moved...very quickly.

Much of the class was spent outside, drawing and journaling from what we saw.  There was also instructional time in the classroom with some drawing exercises and practice, but it turns out that I really loved the studio time we had in the late afternoons and evenings.  Usually there were cocktails or wine, and we just sat in our tiny crowded classroom and worked on the entries we had begun in the field.  I didn't know that I so desperately needed this processing time, or that I would enjoy it quite so much.  Most of my journal entries are mostly completed in the field- because there never seems to be enough time to go back, but I learned how valuable going back can be.

The instructor, Hannah, is a generous, kind woman who never made me feel bad about not having the same skill set as many of the other students.  She helped me start to find a style that I was comfortable in, and also to explore and push my own boundaries.  Plus, we got to play with all kinds of awesome art supplies that I really enjoyed.

I got more courageous when it came to putting pencil or pen to paper, less judgemental, and more confident that it didn't matter if it was perfect.

The other part about the week that was extraordinary were the other participants, especially my roommates.  Older, wiser, and brilliant, these other women made me feel like I could cope with anything, and gave me some wonderful, powerful advice when I really needed it.  Plus, they made getting older look pretty awesome, for all its faults.


Summer.  That beautiful time in a teacher's life...sleeping in with kittens, lazily listening to NPR in bed (the Colorado station, streamed, because the Utah station is just too Utah), slow cups of coffee and approximately 1 million books to read, on my own time.  Also long walks to nowhere in particular, staying up late, walking around the block after dark and rescuing snails after a rain storm, and afternoon naps.


Shasta and Diego coaching me in how to be relaxed

Oh, there have been lots of mountain bike rides, trips to Antelope Island (to ride, to hike, to enjoy), and long hikes around the area.  There has also been a great deal of time spent trying to learn how to actually use my watercolors in a professional manner, mostly by watching Youtube videos.  (Surprisingly helpful.  Also free.)

But mostly, summer.
Antelope Island- where there are bison and favorite place in Utah

Friday, May 15, 2015

Sometimes it is worth it.

So, it has been months since I've updated this blog, mostly because I'm buried.  Buried in work, Spanish, life, etc.  But mostly, work/Spanish.  Sometimes, like this week, it's worth it.

"It seems like you spend a lot of time working on like lessons and stuff for us.  I really appreciate that."- 8th grader, said in conversation
"Yeah, I feel like I've learned more in this year than I have in the previous two." -8th grader, said in conversation
"Your homework was the only homework my daughter wanted to do.  You should know there are a lot of parents singing your praises right now." -parent 

Wow, thanks.  Because it's easy to just be in my own little world.  Because in October, I realized I hated the material I was teaching (not the subject) and the way I was teaching it, and threw it all out and tried something else, something new, and something scary.

Today I made a gentle joke about one of my kids, referencing something he'd said about himself yesterday, in Spanish,  and he laughed!  That is, he understood it (wow!) and then laughed!  Sometimes all that work and time and tears and stress seems to be paying off, at least for this minute.

And who knows what other curveball I'm going to be thrown this afternoon (because that's part of this job too- never knowing if I'm doing good enough), but for now, I feel pretty good.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Wives

It's been a while.  Sorry about that.  Starting at a new school, new grades, new's a lot of work.  Good work.  Overall, I'm very, very happy with my job and feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.  I fall in and out of love with SLC daily, even moment by moment.

This weekend, XC skiing on a converted rail trail in Park City, then a perfect bluebird groomer day at Solitude, was a falling in love sort of day.  Today, with the crummy air quality and papers to grade, less so.

But what I want to bitch about is The Wives.  What do I mean by The Wives?  Well, here it is:
Women who perhaps once were active and played hard and were gear heads and did things, but now are Wives and Mothers.  They have lost their need (if they ever had it) for better fitting chamois shorts and longer travel suspension forks on small framed bikes.  They would not consider bike packing to be a fantastic way to spend a long weekend, and even if they did, well, someone has to watch the kids.

That isn't to say that I disrespect their choice to become parents (that's a whole other issue) and please know that I'm mostly talking about women that I've met here in SLC, not my dearest girlfriends who have made the transition into parenthood.

But I'm not a fucking Wife.  I don't want to sit on the couch at the party and talk about schools and children.  I want to see who wants to go riding with me tomorrow, next week, this summer.  I don't care particularly about when your child learned how to ride a bike; when did you?  Where do you ride?   Why are you boring me with stories about your kids?  And can we just have one conversation where we aren't interrupted by your brat?  Just one?  When did people forget how to teach politeness? (That is a whole other other issue.  And I could go on for days...)

I am so much more than a wife.

Where it becomes most frustrating is when my husband's friends plan trips that are either "family friendly" (read: women in camp with kids/hell) or hammer fests (100+ mile days, no mercy/also hell).  What about the people who wish to play with their partners and not destroy their bodies?  Where are the couples who do that?  Why is there only one or the other?  And why, being neither a hammerhead nor a mother, don't I fit in anywhere?

So my husband and I rarely play with others, with a few exceptions.  There is a group of bike packers here led by a dynamic, un-married, un-parented woman who I enjoy riding with.  Um...what else?

I can't figure out if this situation is Salt Lake (and the insanely patriarchal society that is stuck somewhere in the '70s), my age/time of life, or what.  Sure, it makes sense that people get married (I did) and have kids, but why do they instantly become boring?  (Again, not personal, just noting the way things are here in SLC, especially at my husband's work.)  Does having kids change you so much that you can't be friends with people who don't?  Am I just a bitch because I can't put myself in their shoes?  (Try having 30 of them in a classroom- just try it, and then say that I can't put myself in their shoes.)  Or is it just this town, this time, my interests?  I don't know.

Thus, in and out of love with Salt Lake.

Friday, September 12, 2014